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CRO buys chunk of mobile outfit behind virtual Pfizer trial

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Mytrus has found a new patron as the startup advances mobile apps for clinical trials. InVentiv Health, a contract research organization (CRO) for pharma and device companies, has snapped up an equity stake in Mytrus and plans to partner on commercializing the startup's mobile apps.

Mytrus offers an iPad app that allows patients to give their consent to participate in clinical trials without leaving their homes. Pfizer ($PFE) took on Mytrus as one of its tech partners for the drug giant's virtual clinical trial that involved online recruitment and remote monitoring patients to study its approved overactive bladder drug Detrol, but the effort ran into problems because of stagnant enrollment.

Ray Hill, EVP of clinical at InVentiv

Despite challenges to conducting trials without patients visiting clinics for regular checkups, San Francisco-based Mytrus believes that mobile tech has the potential to reduce the costs of aspects of clinical development, the rising expense of which has become unsustainable. And the company, founded in 2009, says that removing a patient's location as a criterion of trial recruitment eliminates a hurdle to getting enough people to participate in trials.

"Reducing the overall cost of clinical trials and increasing patient recruitment remain serious issues for sponsors," said Ray Hill, inVentiv's president, in a statement. "Our partnership with Mytrus will allow us to recruit and retain a broader base of patients more quickly to help meet our clients' needs."

Anthony Costello, Mytrus CEO

"We estimate that up to 30% of studies run today could be done direct-to-patient and 100% of studies and study patients could benefit from electronic informed consent," Anthony Costello, Mytrus' co-founder and CEO, stated. "inVentiv Health has the global footprint and clinical research expertise to help us bring the benefits of our technology more quickly to trial sponsors and patients worldwide."

The companies didn't disclose financial details of their deal. Like other CROs, InVentiv (formerly PharmaNet/i3) is using IT to help reduce the costs of trials and boost the value of its services to sponsors.

- here's the release

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